Would you believe most people don’t know how many square feet are in the home they own, are about to list, buy or sell. our experience with Greater Boston real estate appraisals continues to prove this truth.
ANSI Z-765 (the American national standard Institute publication) is the go-to method for calculating square footage for single family residential buildings; however, there is no requirement that real estate agents, architects, assessors, insurance companies and appraisers use the same specific standard method for calculating the living area of a home. This lack of a single standard creates several problems for everyone.
- Homeowners: One of the many reasons you will never be able to estimate your house value free online is that all too often the living area and other crucial data reported on public records differs from what actually exists. Therefor all online services are using bad data.
- Real Estate Agents & Sellers: list a home smaller than actual and you have just left money on the table; we see it more than you would believe especially in Greater Boston. Listing homes larger than actual (aka broker puffery) and potential buyers leave with bad feelings about you.
- FSBOs: For Sale by Owner? See paragraph directly above.
- Buyers: You are totally unprotected and at the mercy of the ethics of the listing broker or limits of their knowledge.
- Architects & Builders: Typically use ANSI Z765, although we regularly catch inaccuracies with new construction for many varied reasons, primarily due to plans that changed or using the Gross Building Area (GBA). We recently lowered taxes for new home buyers in Newton and Cambridge by alerting the assessor to correct inaccurate brand new records.
- Assessors: the world of mass appraisals comes with mass measurements and mass errors. Inaccuracies are inherent in Capes and Colonials due to use of percentages for upper stories vs. actual measurements, exclusion of an upper finished story, inaccurate subcontracted mass appraisal measuring services, field sketch mix-ups, measurements estimated due to inaccessible exteriors, and exclusion of above-grade GLA in lower levels
- Appraisers: FNMA appraisal requirements for what is living area are 100% clear. They require use of the Above Grade Gross Living Area (GLA) only, period. Yes finished basement have value but they ARE NOT part of the GLA. FNMA does not require use of ANSI Z765 but the best appraisal practice is to do so because it is a good and fair standard.
- Finished basements: Which would you pay more for; a walk-out basement with a floor that is level with your backyard, full size doors and windows, glass sliders, abundant natural light and ventilation, or a dark walk-up basement with tiny windows? the value per square foot of a basement varies WIDELY due to type of construction. This is why it is not part of GLA and absolutely must be broken out, as is the case in the updated FNMA forms which now distinguish between walk-out, walk-up and interior only(finally).
We understand there are varying needs need for professionalism and accuracy and offer two services:
- GLA Confirmation Service
- Floor plans Service
Our GLA Confirmation Service: we measure the house in compliance with ANSI-Z765 and FNME and provide you with a floor plan outline (the “building footprint” only) and a dimension list sheet. This service is designed to provide our clients with an accurate and affordable solution for determination of a home’s GLA (gross living area). This basic service can be instrumental in assisting homeowners or realtors with the listing of their homes. Having the correct GLA in your listing can save you time and money and help expedite the sale of your home!
Our Floor plan Service: When your needs are more comprehensive than a simple GLA verification this is an accurate and affordable marketing tool for selling your home. The Floor Plans show accurate GLA with approximate locations of interior walls, doors, appliances and plumbing fixtures. We can insert or provide basic room dimensions at your request to give potential buyers an idea of each major room. This service can also be useful when looking to make additions or changes.
Special not to our Realtor friends:
You may be comfortable self-producing sketches. If so then buy the ANSI-Z765 standard and some home floor plan sketching software; however if you prefer, stick to what you do best and let us handle this piece of the puzzle, we are experts. If you decide to do it yourself, remember we will be here when the home is too large or complex and you’re simply not comfortable measuring it yourself.